Older Americans heading into retirement often discover that they don’t have enough money set aside for living expenses. Or they may need to pay down debt because the large amount of equity in their home is preventing them from filing bankruptcy. They need the cash to pay the debt, but don’t have they money in their budget.
This is where a reverse mortgage may be the solution. They’re not for everyone, but in the right situation can be a lifesaver. That is why in this episode of the podcast, I wanted to talk about these loans, what they are, what they aren’t, the pros, and the cons. If it sounds like the right solution for your situation, you should talk to a financial professional about taking the next step.
If you or your spouse are age 62 or older, find out:
One of the things that can happen that can threaten your financial freedom is if your identity is stolen. According to the company LifeLock, nearly 15 million consumers experienced identity theft in 2017, and early 60 million Americans have been affected overall. It can damage your credit status and cost you time and money to restore your good name.
That is why in this episode of the podcast I wanted to discuss what identity theft is, the different kinds, how to prevent it, and what to do if it happens to you!
When people who are struggling with student loans look to ways to get rid of them, they assume that bankruptcy is the only option. Then they are told the myth that student loans can’t be discharged in bankruptcy and think that there is nothing they can do. They are stuck with the loans for the rest of their lives.
However, for many people, there are discharge options outside of bankruptcy that can give them the relief that they need, under certain circumstances. So on this episode of the podcast, I discuss the administrative discharge of federal loans and New Jersey CLASS loans. If you have a loan from another state, check out whether they have these same options.
Most of what you read online about student loans tends to focus on struggling college graduates who can’t repay their debt. Difficulty finding a job, the costs of living like rent and a vehicle competing for those income dollars, and insanely high loan balances upon graduation, combine to make repayment seem beyond reach.
But what about their parents? We hardly ever hear about the moms and dads who are stuck repaying Parent PLUS Loans for children that they put through college. According to an article on the web site Student Loan Hero, Parent PLUS loan debt currently stands at about $77.8 billion.
On top of that, these loans have the highest interest rates among all federal student loans. For the 2017-18 school year, the rate is 7.0%, and older Parent PLUS loans could have rates above 7%.
So in this episode of the podcast I wanted to talk about what parents can do to fit their loan payments more affordably into their finances.
If you have a commercial driver’s license, or CDL, here in New Jersey you probably drive for a living. Therefore, any threat to that license is a threat to your ability to work and your financial stability. You don’t want it suspended or revoked permanently because of a traffic violation.
That is why in this episode of the podcast I talk about New Jersey’s traffic laws and how a violation of them, even if you aren’t driving your commercial vehicle, could result in the suspension or permanent revocation, of that license. You need to protect your financial future!
According to CNNMoney, roughly one-third of Americans have nothing at all saved for retirement, citing a 2016 study from GOBankingRates, and another 23% have less than $10,000 in their retirement funds. That’s more than half of all Americans not prepared for retirement! This may be because they don’t think they have the ability to plan and save for this, or they’ve been putting it off.
Having a good retirement plan is critical to achieving financial freedom and independence. Being able to pay the bills and enjoy life when the paychecks stop is a great feeling, but it takes planning and preparation. That is why in this episode of the podcast I talk about some tips for implementing a plan, so that you can get on that road to your golden years!
One of the biggest obstacles to financial success and freedom can be a criminal record. It can prevent you from getting a better paying job, a security clearance, or a gun permit. Many times this record contains convictions of minor, non-violent crimes that were committed many years ago and represent a very different time in your life.
But that doesn’t have to be the case! New Jersey provides a mechanism and procedure for wiping out this record and allowing you to move onward and upward with your life. So in this episode of the podcast I discuss this process and how you can use it to improve your situation and your chances of financial freedom.
Technology can be a great equalizer when it comes to allowing small businesses to compete with the large corporations. Cloud based products like Microsoft’s Office 365 and Google’s G-Suite offer complex technology infrastructure that delivers high level productivity without requiring an expensive IT department and support. More and more businesses are “going to the cloud” with their data and applications, making them more mobile and platform-independent.
This can lead to greater vulnerability, though, as we hear all the time on the news about companies like Target and Equifax being breached. Even if you keep your data on local servers and don’t go to the cloud at all, you can be at risk. Being hacked could, quite literally, put you out of business and ruin your financial freedom.
That is why in this episode of the podcast, I talk again with Dave Strout of Cettei & Connell here in Woodbury about what your current business liability coverage does, and does not, cover when it comes to cybersecurity, along with the type of policy you will need to cover you properly if disaster should strike.
Those that serve our country in the military make extraordinary sacrifices in their lives and those of their families. Many come home with physical injuries and disabilities. Others come home whole physically, but bear scars that no one can see. These scars can make it often as difficult to adapt to civilian life as the loss of a limb.
That is why New Jersey’s Veteran’s Diversionary program is so important, as it helps veterans and servicemembers suffering from mental illness to avoid the sanctions and consequences of the nonviolent crimes they commit as a result of this disability. So in this episode of the podcast, I talk about how this program gets veterans the help and counseling they need, not jail time and fines.
The biggest asset most people have is their home, so if they decide to sell it, they want to make sure that they get the most they can in price. This can be particularly important if they still owe a lot on the mortgage or mortgages. But the real estate market isn’t what it was prior to 2008, and probably won’t be again any time soon. So, if you want to make the most from your home sale, you need to be smart and strategic about it.
That is why, in this episode of the podcast, I talk to real estate broker Lynn Stambaugh, the owner of Cardinal Real Estate Services here in Woodbury, about some do’s and don’ts when it comes to selling your home. If you are planning to put your home on the market, or are looking to do so in the next few years, these are some things that you should definitely bear in mind!
There have been some developments in the past several months regarding your credit and your student loans if you have them. When these sorts of developments are released, it is important that people find out about it, as it often gets shouted down by all the other things that the media is talking about.
That is why, in this episode of the podcast, I am starting a new feature where I discuss and analyze important developments that could affect your financial freedom, so they are not lost to you in the noise created by the latest political scandal. Here are two stories that could well affect you and your financial future: one on your credit score, and one on federal student loans.
Student loans continue to be in crisis in this country, with debt over $1 trillion nationally. Naturally, people with these loans are looking for a solution to their problem. Unfortunately, many of them are automatically eliminating one of them based on a common misunderstanding, and that is: Student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.
Therefore, in this episode of the podcast, I wanted to dispel this misunderstanding and show how student loans can be discharged in bankruptcy. It is not easy to do, and it definitely is not inexpensive, but it is worth looking into if you have a crushing balance of student loan debt.
Student loan debt continues to be a problem in this country with over $1 trillion owed nationally. A large percentage of them are struggling to make payments or cannot make them at all. They are sliding towards default and an even bigger financial problem.
In the face of this, there have been a lot of ads lately, as well as articles on the web, that tout refinancing of your student loans as a solution to those unaffordable monthly payments. They say that you can get a better interest rate by doing so! While this may be a solution for some borrowers, for others, it could actually make things worse!
That is why in this episode of the podcast, I wanted to talk about the refinancing option and give some advice on when it can be the solution for you. You cannot work towards financial freedom if you are being held back by unaffordable debt that you can seldom wipe out.
Any threat to your employment is a threat to your income and financial freedom. One example of this is your driver’s license being suspended, thus causing a problem with getting to and from your job. Getting caught driving while suspended, because you have to get to work, just makes matters worse!
That is why in this episode of the podcast I wanted to talk about New Jersey’s driving while suspended charge and how to deal with it. In many cases it is fixable and prevents you from making a bad situation even worse!
Traffic violations in New Jersey can have a serious effect on your financial freedom, depending on the seriousness. Not only can the fines and surcharges be significant, but they can also lead to jail time! This is also true of minor criminal charges, like disorderly person’s offenses, that can be brought in this court.
That is why I discussed this topic on this month’s episode of Lunch with a Lawyer, which covered not only ways to avoid a jail sentence, but alternatives to serving that time in a cell. Since this is such an important topic, I wanted to share this information on the podcast as well.
In the previous episode of the podcast, I talked about getting ready for 2018 by formulating a budget and goals for the coming year. This is critical to financial freedom and should be done every year, preferably in December. But for most of you, creating a budget and goals is a new thing, and like any skill, it takes time to develop.
So, in this episode of the podcast, I wanted to talk about what you should expect in the first three months of 2018 as far as this process is concerned. By knowing what is ahead, you will be better prepared for it and be less likely to give up before you build up the momentum you need.
A household budget is a critical and basic part of any plan for financial freedom. It is the foundation on which everything else is built. But a budget is not something that you set and forget. You have to review and revise it regularly, so that it continues to reflect your expenses and keep you on target for your long-term goals.
December is a great time to do this review in preparation for the coming year. So in this episode of the podcast I wanted to talk about what you need to do to get ready for 2018. What better way to have a happy new year than to know that it will lead to a bright financial future!
One of the biggest news stories right now has to do with the tax reform bills that have been passed in both houses of Congress. They make sweeping reforms to many areas of the tax code, and each version has some differences. But as a student loan lawyer, I am most concerned about how it would affect education, and if you are a student, a parent of one, or a graduate, you should be concerned too.
So in this episode of the podcast I wanted to go over the changes and discuss what they could mean for you, and what could end up in the combined bill.
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, or some other December holiday, the “season of giving” can be the biggest budget buster of them all, especially as you approach the annual finish line. A “spirit of giving” is a wonderful thing, but there are practical, financial limits that should not be ignored, or it can put you in a financial hole when the credit card bill comes in January.
That is why, in this episode of the podcast, I talk about 15 things you can do to be sure that you are celebrating the new year on a firm financial footing after having a wonderful holiday season.
I have discussed in previous episodes of the podcast about the importance of having a short term and long-term financial strategy. The former is accomplished by a budget and the discipline to keep track of expenses and keep within the limits of that budget. In fact, in Episode 13 I reviewed the online budgeting tool EveryDollar to maintain that strategy.
But the long-term strategy is having savings and a retirement plan, so that you will have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your efforts now are paying off and that your financial freedom will last for a lifetime. To help you do that, in this episode of the podcast I review Wela, an online tool that gives you the ability to gain an overall view of your entire financial situation from one free application: investments, cash, credit card debt, student loans, and real estate.
In most instances, pleading guilty or being found guilty of a disorderly, or petty disorderly, person’s offense (New Jersey’s equivalent of a misdemeanor) is bad enough, with the fines, costs, and sometimes jail time. But there are some things that can happen outside the judge’s sentence for the offense.
Sometimes you can lose your job! This is called employment forfeiture, and it can have a devastating effect on your financial freedom. So in this episode of the podcast I talk about this forfeiture, how it works, when it could apply to you, and what effect it can have.
Just about everyone knows these days that student loan debt is a real crisis in this country. With well over $1 trillion owed, and a significant amount in default, today’s college graduates are struggling with a major burden to carry through life. But there is a way for you, as their parents, to ease that burden.
The federal tax code, under section 529, has created tax incentives for contributing to a college fund. Referred to commonly as a 529 Plan, it can help you save for your child’s education. Every dollar you save (and grows with your child) is a dollar they don’t have to borrow! So in this episode of the podcast, I talk about these plans, what they are, what the money can be spent on, and whether they are right for you.
Achieving and maintaining financial freedom involves making the right decisions about your finances. It’s about choosing the right mortgage with the lowest interest rate, deciding with each purchase whether you want or need that item or service, and picking the right insurance company and policy options and coverage.
One important decision is where to do your everyday banking. Where do you keep your money? What institution has the best services, lowest fees, convenient branches, and the like. But it is also important to decide whether to go with a traditional bank or a credit union. So in this episode of the podcast I talk about the advantages and disadvantages of a credit union, and who should bank with one.
A lot of people do that one stupid thing in their lives that they’re not proud of. It’s that youthful indiscretion, that one brush with the law encountered by that otherwise law abiding citizen. Sometimes it’s that joint in your pocket or your car; sometimes it’s an impulsive grab for goods in a store that leads to shoplifting charges.
Fortunately, courts in New Jersey recognize this and give you a one-time "out" for these charges, called a "diversion." Two of them, Conditional Discharge and Conditional Dismissal, are used for minor charges in traffic court, while another, Pretrial Intervention, is used for more serious charges in county court.
In this episode of the podcast, I will discuss diversion for minor charges, as a criminal record can cause real problems for your financial freedom, often leading to the inability to get a job or a higher paying one!
A person’s credit score is becoming more and more important, as it is used for more and more things. Now, it is not only key to getting a mortgage or a car loan, but to renting an apartment or getting insurance! There are lots of web sites out there that talk about credit and tell you what you have to do to build (or rebuild) a credit score.
Doing it, however, can be a daunting task, and people don’t always know where to turn for help. In Episode 27, I talked to Alex Frees of Credit Repair Publishing on tips for how to build or repair your credit for a better financial future. He is back in this episode to talk about how his company can help you through the process.